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How can I get Rid of Body Odor?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Body odor can be caused by a variety of circumstances or conditions. First, it’s important to know that what you smell, most often, is the presence of certain bacteria. Profuse sweating, certain foods, alcohol and cigarette smoke, or the inability to metabolize some minerals may cause excessive odor, which may be difficult to deal with only by using antiperspirant or deodorants. Not all body odor occurs under the arms; you may be dealing with feet that smell very bad, odor in the genital region, or an overall odor of the skin.

First and foremost, if you have unpleasant body odor you should be certain to shower or bathe daily, and make sure you wash your clothing after each wear. You can use deodorant soap on the arms and body, but pick a gentler soap for the face. Plan to shower after any activities that require excessive physical exertion, in addition to taking your daily shower. Change your bed linens once a week so you’re not picking up lingering smells from your sheets.

Some people find they’re able to stop odor by using deodorant or antiperspirant. It can also help to keep the underarms shaved, since hair in these areas tends to hold onto bacteria. You can remove excess bacteria by swabbing the underarms with rubbing alcohol or witch hazel before applying deodorant. Some people swear by aluminum crystal deodorant, and a dusting of baking powder can help soak up odor and sweat as well. Since all these applications can be a mess, consider deodorants that contain baking powder, aluminum, and witch hazel.

If you have trouble with feet that are smelly, consider doing an alcohol or witch hazel wash of the feet each day. Baking powder and cornstarch can help to dry sweaty feet. Furthermore you can use "odor eating" shoe inserts or sprays to help control persistent foot odor.

Sometimes, people with zinc deficiency have more body odor than normal. It can help to take a zinc supplement to see if this helps the condition. Certain foods can cause more odor too, especially foods like fish and garlic or onions, so you may want to skip these if odor is pronounced. People may have trouble digesting foods that contain choline, which include foods like eggs, fish, and beans. If you have a lot of these in your diet and are plagued with too much odor despite daily washing, consider eliminating these foods from your diet.

An astringent solution called Domeboro® helps some people. Prepackaged aluminum acetate in powdered form is mixed with water, making it easy to use over the counter. This may be helpful for those who have persistent trouble with fungal infections and other skin irritations.

Although body odor is often the result of bacteria, it can be caused by fungal infections. If you have persistent odor on the feet or in the skin folds around or in the genitals, you may have a yeast infection. If you also notice itching, see a medical professional to find out if yeast infections are the cause of the problem.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By lighth0se33 — On Jan 25, 2013

@cloudel: I had the same problem. My deodorant would cause my underarms to turn red and burn if I applied it at night after a shower, so I had to come up with something else to prevent body odor.

I discovered that aloe vera gel is perfect for this. It soothes the skin that you just shaved, and somehow, it prevents odor during the night.

I'm not sure how it works, but I'm glad it does. I apply a small drop of it every night to each underarm and let it dry before putting my pajamas on, and I don't sweat or smell bad in the morning.

By cloudel — On Jan 25, 2013

I'm having a problem, and I need some advice. I can't put on deodorant after a shower, because I always shave my underarms in the shower, and the deodorant irritates the skin.

I don't want to have bad armpit body odor at night, because I like to wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. Is there anything I can use at night instead of deodorant to prevent this from happening?

By anon315680 — On Jan 25, 2013

@Baron: I agree with you on this. It's really the bacteria, not sweat, because when I use UARMSOL even after I sweat I have no armpit odors, not even one bit. I could sweat like a dog but still no odors. Bacteria is the one and only culprit.

By wavy58 — On Jan 25, 2013

I had a bad body odor during my period back when I used to use pads instead of tampons. The smell of the blood on the pad would travel through my clothes, and I was afraid that others around me could smell it.

Now that I use tampons instead, I can't smell any blood at all. It's much less messy, and I don't feel self-conscious about the odor.

The only problem occurs when I forget to change the tampon in time and blood leaks onto my underwear. I can usually feel this happening before it gets too soaked, so the odor isn't as bad as it would be if I were wearing a pad.

By giddion — On Jan 24, 2013

Vaginal body odor isn't always caused by a yeast infection. There's something called bacterial vaginosis that can cause a fishy odor.

Unlike a yeast infection, it doesn't make you itch. So, it's bearable if you can put up with the odor.

By ZipLine — On Nov 21, 2012

This is kind of embarrassing but I want to share it in case anyone else is having the same problem. I had been dealing with a foul odor from my genital area for a while now. It was especially apparent when I urinated.

I finally found the courage to see a doctor about it last week and after some tests, I found out that I had a urinary tract infection. I've been on antibiotics for five days and the odor is already gone.

If you're experiencing the same, please see a doctor! There is nothing to be ashamed about!

By serenesurface — On Nov 20, 2012

@literally45-- Something like that happened to me too and I realize that the cause is food.

When I'm not at school, I'm at home and my mom is cooking all day at home with onions, garlic and spices. Even when I don't eat this food, I've realized that when I'm around the kitchen, my clothes and even my hair absorbs the odor of the food. And when I go to school or to hang out with friends, I smell like onion and spices.

What I do now is I always keep my bedroom door closed so my clothes and belongings don't absorb the odors. I never go out of the house with the same clothes I wear at home. If I do cooking myself, I make sure to shower and wear fresh clothes before I leave.

This has eliminated my body odor completely. Maybe you should try the same and see if it makes any difference.

By literally45 — On Nov 19, 2012

My friends say that I always smell weird but I have no idea why. I don't smell anything! I asked my mom and she said I smell fine too. I don't have excessive sweating or anything like that either. Why is this happening? I'm really upset.

By underarm — On Aug 21, 2011

A good deodorant is one without leaving residues and odors behind. I've been using Uarmsol deodorant for many years now and I have no more armpit odors. I applied one pinch and that's all there is to it for the whole day without worries about any smell afterwards. There's no chemicals, oil or fragrances added. No staining clothes, either. There's no after sport smell or odor masking. And the best thing is I don't have to shave!

By anon130935 — On Nov 30, 2010

I don't think one needs to use baking powder and its extras when baking soda alone (sodium bicarbonate a component of baking powder) is extremely effective against odors. I'll usually mix baking soda in with a low ingredient alcohol based hand-sanitizer and pour it into a roll-on container for easy application. No deodorant on the market has been as effective.

By anon55835 — On Dec 10, 2009

Don't waste money on pharmaceutical products. There are cheap and effective ways to get rid of body odor like charcoal soap and ammonium alum. I've been using it for years.

By baron99 — On Mar 27, 2008

Is body odor considered a skin disease? what dwells in our underarm when it's sweat? fungi or bacteria?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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